>Running 101>How to fix my running?
A few years ago I shattered my kneecap, and ever since that when I run, my left leg goes out to the side crookedly rather than straight back. I very recently started the Couch to 5k program, and I figured maybe there was a way to fix my form to make myself not look so ridiculous when I'm running along. I know I have a perfectly valid excuse to run the way I do, but I didn't know if there was a way to train myself to stop that bad habit. Thanks!
you have checked with a doctor to make sure running is ok right? that definitely sounds like it could lead to problems in the future if you form is off too much and shattering a kneecap seems like something that could prevent you from running.
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Knee joint is probably the most vulnerable joint in our body. It is one of the biggest ones (not THE biggest), yet the movement is quite limited and it's quite "exposed". What I mean by "exposed" is that it is basically 2 plain surfaces, facing each other and the only thing that is holding it together are very thin ligaments on the outer sides and criss-crossing in the middle (ACL). Granted, there are quite a bit of tendons around it that's holding it together as well but, because of that, the strength of those muscle groups that run through and around the knee joint pretty much determines the stability of the knee joint.
Assuming your knee doesn't hurt doing these, along with C35K plan, try doing some strength training for your knee. Squat, or one-leg squat, would be a good one. So would an quad strengthening exercise of; sitting on a chair, put some weights--or even some paint can with a handle hook around your foot and adjust the weight by how much of what you have in it--and bring your foot up by straightening your knee. If you "shattered" your knee cap, I'm assuming that you had gone through a reconstructing surgery??? Some of those tendons from quads--some of the biggest muscle groups in your body, go through your knee cap. So those would be gradually, and sensibly, strengthened to hold your knee joint in place.
Particularly for runners, knee joint can be quite vulnerable because we tend to strengthen quads and hamstrings and neglect lateral side of muscles--this possibly can be a big reason why so many runners get ITBS--and they all talk about what to do but never talk much about prevention. Some simple exercises such as; lying down on your side; lift your leg laterally up with straightened leg, would be a good one. Make sure you do the inner thigh as well (the one above, you bring up the outside leg up (abduction); but for this, this time, bring the lower leg up (this is beyond adduction, super-adduction??? I can't remember the official term for this...), criss-crossing your leg in front of you, also with straight leg. Basically these are muscles and tendons that hold your knee joint together. If these muscles are weak, your knee joint will be vulnerable.
I would also recommend as much step running/walking as possible. Hiking over rugged cross-country terrain, walking up and down the hills, would be excellent because it really works your knee joints in all directions. Do this gradually and sensibly--don't try to do "hill sprints" from the get-go. Just walk up the steps/hills especially when your fitness level is low and doing C25K program or likes.
There was this Japanese runner, Kokichi Tsuburaya, who had polio when he was a little kid and it affected his left leg, twisting his leg outside. He didn't want to run because his friends at school all made fun of his funny running style. He went on and won the bronze medal in 1964 Olympic marathon. He ended up committing suicide a few years later but that wasn't because of his "funny" running style!! Joaquim Cruze of Brazil had one leg an inch shorter than the other (I don't think it was caused by any sickness or injury though) and his running style was visibly crooked. He ended up winning 2 Olympic medals (gold in 1984 and silver in 1988). My wife busted her ACL a couple of years ago and her knee joint was, as she put it, "like water", moving every direction a tad too far. She was very much concerned about running and scared of running. She started adding some step running and high knee exercise on the uphill. She ran a 10-mile race at sub-8 pace last fall and feel quite strong about it. Our body is quite amazing adapting to new situations. As long as we go about gradually and sensibly, and, as the other poster said, as long as your doctor is okay about running, you would be fine.
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